Be Our Guest – Subtle Impressions Opens Doors with Unique Invitation

by Brittany Willes, contributing editor, PostPress

When one door closes another one opens. Or, in the case of a unique, interactive wedding invitation created by Subtle Impressions, Inc. of Gastonia, North Carolina, a pair of antique wooden doors open to invite viewers to share in a very special occasion.

As the father of the bride, Subtle Impressions President Jim Schaefer was determined to create a memorable invitation to celebrate his daughter, Carley, and future son-in-law, Ryan’s big day. The design for the award-winning invitation found its inspiration in the wedding venue. Set on a 112-acre tree farm in western Rowan County in North Carolina, The Arbors event center boasted the perfect location for a fairytale wedding – with one exception.

“It was decided the wedding would be outdoors; however, my daughter wanted to enter through a set of doors,” stated Schaefer. All the venue had to offer was a set of static, always-open doors that left much to be desired. Not to be deterred, “My wife found two antique doors, and I made a fully functioning, transportable door frame,” he explained. “Once the frame was finished and assembled we thought it would be neat to incorporate it into the wedding invitations.”

To create the appearance of antique wooden doors on the invitations, photos were taken and sent to Schaefer’s nephew, Travis Stephenson, owner of Stephenson Designs, LLC. Using the photos and input from the bride-to-be, Stephenson was able to design a realistic and innovative invitation package – the perfect wedding gift for his cousin, Carley.

The doors themselves contain rich earth tones of brown, tan and dark red that convey a sense of warmth and welcome, inviting viewers to reach out and touch. Set against a neutral background of silver (reminiscent of siding) and surrounded by small embellishments, such as colorful flowers and decorative golden filigrees, the doors open to reveal the details of the wedding itself. Framed by the open doors, the calligraphy-style writing in a dark foil encourages viewers to tilt and turn the invitation to catch the light while showing off the simple, yet elegant, font.

“Travis incorporated the pictures of the doors along with other elements that Carley wanted, such as the bride and groom’s initials and the Bible verse set above the open doors and the grass at the bottom,” said Schaefer.

Once the design was finalized, Schaefer and Melanie Hunt, Subtle Impressions pre-press expert, worked together to determine the best print and die layouts, as well as the embossing layers. The invitation itself was printed on one side using 105# Stardream quartz cover stock from Neenah. The printing was done on a Konica Minolta Bizhub C1085.

The invitation was then foil stamped and embossed using three different magnesium foil dies made by Owosso Graphic Arts, Inc. The multi-level embossing die was created by Universal Engraving, Inc. Another two steel rule dies were provided by Dura-Craft Die, Inc. The invitation’s front and inside panels were foil stamped on a Kluge EHD with Kurz Transfer Products metallic gold and metallic brown foil. Following the foil stamping, the sheets were then perforated on a Kluge machine. This was done so that the sheet would fold over in register.

Next, a pattern glue panel was screen printed before folding the front panel onto the middle panel. The antique doors were then die cut and scored while the inside panel was folded over and adhered to the middle panel using double-sided tape. Finally, the invitation was trimmed using a guillotine paper cutter.

Creating a printed piece that incorporated so many different processes was one of the biggest challenges Subtle Impressions faced while designing the invitation. “Once we had the design, determining the best layout for getting all the graphics to line up properly when folded and assembled was definitely a concern,” remarked Schaefer.”And, of course, we were determined to maintain the highest level of quality on every pass to ensure a top-notch product using the least amount of materials possible.”

There can be little doubt of the quality of the end product. According to Schaefer, the invitation received many compliments. “It received even more at the wedding once people realized they were walking through the actual doors that were recreated for the invitation,” he stated.

Given the level of thought and care that went into each detail of the invitation, it’s little surprise it earned a gold award in the Announcement/Invitation category of this year’s FSEA Gold Leaf Awards.

“It felt extremely good to learn that we won the gold,” stated Schaefer. “It makes me proud to know that our people and our vendors – from design, through pre-press, die manufacture and ultimately execution – can pull off a level of quality that has been recognized by our peers at the level of FSEA.”